Aston Villa boss Dean Smith must start Morgan Sanson vs Leeds

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After signing him back in the January transfer window, it’s been a rather slow start to life at Aston Villa for Morgan Sanson.

The Frenchman has played just the 33 minutes of Premier League football since joining, with Dean Smith understandably cautious of throwing him straight into the deep end.

But with momentum stalling after two games without a win, including a defeat to Leicester last time out, it’s surely time for Smith to cast off the shackles and unleash Sanson – starting with today’s clash against Leeds United at Elland Road.

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Speaking after his signing, Smith raved about the kind of qualities the midfielder could bring, saying: “He has got a big game mentality, he has played at the top of the French league for the last five years, played in the Champions League.

The £18m-rated Frenchman, dubbed as a “warrior” by himself, showed he’s able to be a really effective box-to-box presence in his time at Marseille. Before his move to the Midlands, he had averaged an impressive 1.8 tackles and 1.1 key passes per game in Ligue 1, both of which ranks him favourably compared to the rest of Villa’s squad.

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Only two other players have averaged more tackles per match than him, while again, only two other have averaged more key passes too. That dynamism could bring some much-needed energy into the Villa engine room, and offer them a bit more guile going forward, especially when you consider they’ve actually only scored four goals in their past five league matches.

With Villa not tasting victory in their past couple of Premier League games, and suffering from crucial injuries to the likes of Jack Grealish and Matty Cash, bringing in someone like Sanson into the starting line-up could be the kind of breath of fresh air that kicks things back into gear for Smith.